Cuban president Raul Castro at the closing session of Cuban Assembly. Photo: EPA

How they see it, December 21, 2014

The thaw in relations between the US and Cuba


1. The Miami Herald

This is a new beginning, but US President Barack Obama's opening to Cuba is not yet the "game-changer" others have called it. The game won't change until Cuba makes effective, substantive moves toward democratic reform. And until Cuba makes these reforms, the trade embargo should remain in place. No one should doubt the historic significance of the president's decision. It required political courage, representing the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The president has made a bet whose ultimate outcome no one can know. "These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It's time for a new approach," he said. All who yearn to see freedom in Cuba can only hope this gamble pays off.


2. Global Times

An island nation of only 11.16 million people, Cuba endured decades of US sanctions. Throughout, it bided its time and stuck to its fundamental system. Its forbearance has finally paid off. The failure of the US sanctions on Cuba will have an impact on other sanctions Washington is still exercising. How much effect will sanctions over North Korea, Iran and Russia have if the US cannot deal with Cuba in this way? Drawing on China's experience, Havana has taken proactive measures to reform its domestic and foreign policies, laying the groundwork for the restoration of US-Cuba relations. China's path will be echoed profoundly as Cuba deepens its reform and opening-up.


3. The Guardian

It is no surprise that Barack Obama is attempting to make use of his final two years in the Oval Office to try to polish his legacy, especially in foreign policy. In the aftermath of midterm elections that handed his Republican adversaries control of Congress, it was anticipated the president would seek some solace on the international stage. What came as a surprise was that this should happen so spectacularly over Cuba. Liberated from electoral constraints, Obama has made swift moves on some of the trickiest issues. The thaw in relations with Cuba comes as a vindication of his initial policy of the outstretched hand towards hostile regimes or rogue states. It demonstrates that patience and secrecy can bring results.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: How They See It